Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ten Reasons You Know Your Son Has Gone to University...

  1. You don’t trip over five pairs of smelly trainers when you come in through the back door

  1. Your food bill has suddenly halved and your shopping list no longer includes a jumbo pack of chicken dippers (usually consumed in one sitting at 3am) and eight litres of milk

  1. You hear those immortal words ‘In a minute…’ half the usual number of times when you ask someone to lay the table (well I do still have one at home)

  1. Your fridge seems  unusually empty without the usual fridge pack of beers which are kept chilled for that impromptu party invite

  1. The house isn’t filled with the strange cacophony of his increasingly dodgy taste in music – well, dodgy to me anyway

  1. You have woken up a least once in a blind panic because that familiar head hasn’t poked round the bedroom door at 4am to say ‘Mum, I’m home’. Then you remember he’s not gone out, he’s actually gone – for a while anyway

  1. You come home from work and the kitchen looks the same as you left it in the morning rather than the aftermath of a mortar attack

  1. In his bedroom, the wardrobe has replaced the floordrobe

  1. You have two bottles of Diet Coke that have been in the cupboard for longer than a day

  1.  There is no-one telling daft jokes at the dinner table, gently teasing his sister, giving you hugs every day, inspiring you, educating you, making you laugh, making you cry, making you smile. That lovely face that you have looked on almost every day of his life, that you have watched change from a chubby baby, to a messy toddler, to an awkward adolescent and finally to a handsome young man is no longer a daily feature of your life and probably will never be again. And you realise that he has left a hole in your life that you could drive a juggernaut through. And you also realise that all those friends whose kids have already left, whose over-emotional Facebook statuses you had quietly scoffed at (while hitting the ‘Like’ button, of course) when they left for university had been telling the truth.  It really is like someone has cut one of your limbs off.

It’s part of the paradox of parenthood. You want them to spread their wings, to go out in the world and make their mark, be their own person, have their own life but damn, it hurts too. The most important relationship in your life has changed subtly and will never be the same. The years that you have invested in their life and their upbringing has, inevitably, come to this, the moment they leave and though you always knew it would happen, when it does you  realise that all the preparation in the world hasn't made you ready for this moment.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Say No to Atrocity Porn

It has been over a week since James Foley was brutally murdered yet you don't need to go far to find a photo of him, clad in orange, in the last few moments of his life. A full and courageous life that ended in the most horrible way imaginable. His murderer, because that is what he is, has even been given a nickname, Jihadi John. It sounds like Postman Pat or Fireman Sam, all soft and fluffy. And don't editors just love alliteration?

Why not just call him what he is; a brutal, morally bankrupt murderer who has now been afforded the 'celebrity' status he failed to achieve as a South London rapper, if the most recent newspaper reports are to be believed. Meanwhile, James Foley is reduced to 'beheaded journalist'  because he is no longer a person but a story, a commodity, as editors and journalists elbow each other out of the way to find another way to string out his tragic death.  Was it staged? Where did it happen? Who cares? I don't. But I care deeply about the death of this man. I care deeply about the emotive language that is used to describe an act of murder. I will not look at the photos. I do not want to see the last moments of anyone's life yet editors and journalists the world over have actually watched the video of his murder,  all in the name of journalism, you understand. That is not journalism, it is voyeurism. How does it make them any better than the sick individuals who actually watched the video before it was taken down? So much for supporting one of your own. And all the while we become more and more inured to scenes of death.

Facebook, Twitter and all social media in between is awash with photos of dead Gazan babies, people with their faces shot away, the aftermath of a suicide bomb. It is Atrocity Porn - and it seems to be addictive. It is all to further whatever particular cause the image relates to, apparently. Maybe so, most likely not. All I can say is I do not want to see it. Every image is of a person, not a casualty, not a body, a person who moments before was living and breathing, who had a family who loved them. These images are out there for anyone to see including those family members.

The British broadcast media thinks nothing of showing graphic photos of death -  with a little rider that some people might find them disturbing or upsetting of course. Damn right I do! So here's an idea. Don't show them. Don't show them on the lunchtime news while children may be watching. Don't even show them on the evening news. Have some respect. Don't show them at all. Is it any wonder that Hollywood now seems to produce films that are woefully short on story but very long on increasingly graphic and creative ways to torture, maim and kill? We see so much real horror on the small screen that they need to really up the ante to grab your attention. What a sad reflection on society.

So I say to editors and journalists everywhere. If this was your father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister would you show these obscene photos of their death? No you would not. So why is it acceptable to show it when it is someone else's family? Why do we need to see these photos? We should all just say no to Atrocity Porn and it starts with you.

Read the original article in  The Huffington Post